The Novel: a confrontation between the Writer and her Protagonist

“Please stop following me.”

She felt ashamed of the whine in her voice and the desperate tone of her words, even more so when the Protagonist cast her a look of pity.

“You were the one who dreamed of writing a Novel.” Such cold words.

“A rejected novel,” the Protagonist continued, draping herself across the empty desk, “will always be better than an unwritten one.” She reached over and seized the notebook sitting silently beside her, and casually flipped through it. “Empty pages,” she said, with a hint of contempt. “What will you do, my dear Writer? Do you even deserve your title?”

The Writer trembled, and suddenly thrust another notebook at the Protagonist. This one bore a dog-eared cover, and held pages smudged with lead. “I did write! I planned out the entire novel!” the Writer cried, blushing furiously. The Protagonist stared at her, then nodded. Quiet prevailed for the next hour, save for the rustle of paper as the Protagonist carefully turned each page, pouring over the writing as though it were Scripture. The words were hastily scrawled for most of the notebook; the Writer didn’t want to lose any ideas, since they rarely came to her.

“Lovely stuff,” the Protagonist murmured when she finally shut the notebook closed and gazed at the Writer. “A sprawling plot line, with rather vague descriptions. You cleaned it up quite nicely at the end, though. Why aren’t you writing the actual Novel now?”

The Writer bit her lip.

“I’m…” She paused. “I’m afraid. Of writing. Because I don’t think I could ever properly convey the Novel with my lackluster skills. The ideas are too grand and brilliant for me. If I were to write it, they would never reach their full potential. If only another Writer could take my place instead…” She buried her face in her hands and choked back a sob. The Protagonist regarded her silently. A shame that my Writer is such a small mouse, she thought, scrutinizing the Writer’s small, thin frame and disheveled hair. When she looked up again, tears threatened to fall from the corners of her pale eyes.

“I’m sorry that I created you, only to give up,” she whispered.

The Protagonist had had enough. She leapt from the table and slammed the notebook into the Writer’s chest, ignoring the latter’s cry of surprise and pain. “You haven’t given up at all, shameful coward!” she cried. “Just look at all the outlining you’ve done! Stop wallowing in self-pity! Get some confidence and start writing! I won’t stop following you until you’ve finished the first draft.” The Writer nodded nervously and dried her eyes. That’s right, she thought. I need to put an end to my spinelessness. “Now?” she squeaked, noticing the time on the clock, and how dark the room’d become. The Protagonist merely rolled her eyes. The Writer chided herself for putting off the daunting task yet again, sighed, and opened up the blank notebook.

And thus began the story of the Writer, the Protagonist, and the problems they faced while creating a Novel.

~

[note: nanowrimo starts next week!!]

Advertisements

a past life

take time to touch
the ticking thoughts

our years flew by,
drowned in tears and reflected
in a bowl of ginger tea masochism

a camaraderie claimed
to be everlasting
fell apart like delicate gossamer
at the hands of the clock.

we aimed for the moon
and became shooting stars,
but there was no forever
on which we could land.

coping mechanism

Miranda is twelve and angry with the world. So when she leans over the battered music stand and aligns her lips with Annie’s ear, she’s not sure how to continue.

“Guess what,” she breathes. She’s never done this before, and she’s afraid of sounding insincere.

“What?” Annie replies, grinning as she leans unsuspectingly towards her. (Suddenly Miranda feels dizzy and lightheaded. How does she move forward?) 

I love you. A straightforward confession, but an ambiguous one as well. The love of sisters and blood ties, the love of best friends forever, the love of strangers who seek passion and acceptance. Tie a blindfold over her eyes and have her point to one (maybe to two, maybe pick all three and more). Everything is so complicated and messy. Miranda wishes that they could all turn into flowers and photosynthesize together. Then she wouldn’t have to do this.

I might move soon. The keyword here is ‘might.’ That implies an off-chance that Miranda might not move and switch schools, that she’ll stay until the end. That provides hope, and Miranda knows that Annie would cling on to that and ignore everything else. So there’s no need to say that yet, no, not until ‘might’ solidifies into ‘will.’

But the words Grandma died last week (the very last thing she wants to say) are the ones that slip from Miranda’s mouth. It’s an ugly truth, and the effect is immediate. Annie’s eyes widen first with disbelief, then with a rotten mixture of shock and grief.

“…What?”

Miranda realizes how horrible it must sound to have a mismatched chord slammed against the keys in the middle of a nocturne. She backpedals accordingly. “April fools,” she whispers with a forced smile. Today is the first day of the month, and she doesn’t want the person she loves most to cry. There had been a funeral, but all Miranda can remember are rain (there is always rain, soft and grey and sad) and flowers, still fresh and bright yellow against the dark earth. There were no tears, and there will be no tears. Within a numb Miranda float well-hidden secrets and quiet restraint. I’m an awful friend, she thinks. How lovely it would be if everything remained static.
For her, the death of an angel is the biggest April Fools lie of all.

one meeting

we are nothing and we are everything;
the paper houses in which we live
have been bleached of our words

there are fields of fallen leaves
set aflame by a tempest of longing,
but the wispy thread between us
only pulls us farther apart

and as we fade away,
our hearts are lined
with red spider lilies.

~

originally published in THE TEACUP TRAIL in july 2014.